Maryland residents are about to start paying a new "rain tax" that's based on how "impervious surfaces" on their property keep rain water from draining naturally into the soil.
The "storm management fee," as it is officially been labeled, was passed by the state legislature in 2012 and goes into effect July 1, following a decree from Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The new tax was set in motion in 2010 when the Environmental Protection Agency ordered Maryland to reduce storm water runoff into the Chesapeake Bay, which reportedly would cost the state $14.8 billion. The EPA edict required a nitrogen level reduction of 22 percent and phosphorus level reduction of 15 percent, reported Maryland's Gazette.net
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Examples of "impervious surfaces" include roofs, driveways, patios, and sidewalks. As the Gazette explained, impervious surfaces are "anything that prevents rain water from seeping into the earth . . . causing stormwater runoff."
How much the state will charge property owners per square foot of "impervious surfaces" is still unknown. What is known is how the state will reportedly measure the amount of "impervious surfaces" on each property – using satellite imagery and geographic information systems.
The "rain tax" will apply only to residents living in Baltimore and the state's largest counties: Montgomery, Prince George's, Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll, Hartford, Charles, Frederick, and Baltimore.
According to state officials, those counties are expected to raise $482 million annually in order to finance the $14.8 billion stormwater cleanup bonds by 2025.
An estimated 75 percent of the revenue will come from homeowners, while just 25 percent will come from non-residential property owners.
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Government-owned property was exempted from the tax by state lawmakers, while churches, charities and other non-profits are required to pay the tax.
Though the tax is intended to supplement the $14.8 billion associated with reducing storm water runoff, the bill also includes language that allows for "public education and outreach" and "grants to nonprofit organizations."
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